Rolls-Royce celebrates 110 years

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will celebrate 110 years of existence on Sunday May 4. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met for the first time on this date exactly 110 years ago and agreed to form the company that would become synonymous with the very best in automotive. Celebrations will take place at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex and at The Midland Hotel, Manchester.

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer in a time when many people thought that motoring was just a fad that would soon pass. He was a shrewd businessman and talented engineer. Rolls raced bicycles, motorcycles and motor cars and was an early advocate of aviation, firstly with balloons and then aeroplanes. He funded his sporting activity by running a London-based car sales and service depot, C.S. Rolls and Co. The cars he sold were virtually all imported and Rolls was frustrated by, and often voiced criticism at, the lack of British initiative in this field.

Sir Henry Royce originated from more humble beginnings. His luck changed when an aunt offered to pay for an apprenticeship at the Great Northern Railway Works at Peterborough, the cradle of many great British engineers. His apprenticeship, combined with self-taught knowledge, resulted in a job with the Electric Light and Power Company in London and he subsequently set up his own successful engineering business in Manchester. In the early 1900’s he set out to design and build his own car, the 10hp ‘Royce’. The car made its first journey from his factory in Manchester to his home in Knutsford, some 15 miles away, on 1 April 1904 without issue.

Following a suggestion from Claude Johnson, partner at C.S. Rolls and Co., and Henry Edmunds, Director of Royce Ltd, Rolls travelled to Manchester on 4 May 1904 to meet Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel. The meeting went well so much so that Rolls agreed to sell all the cars that Royce could build and came away from the meeting saying, “I have met the greatest engineer in the World.” It was also agreed that the cars would be known as Rolls-Royce motor cars.

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls

Sir Henry Royce